BOT 360F - Families of Vascular Plants

RUSCACEAE (formerly included in Liliaceae)
Polygonatum spp.

Polygonatum pubescens - Known as Solomon's seal because of its underground rhizome, and found in moist to dry rich forests in the deciduous and mixed forest regions. Distinguished from Maianthemum spp. (false Solomon's seal, Canada mayflower; below) by the few-flowered partial inflorescences in the leaf axils. Source: Dickinson et al. (2004) and McKay & Catling (1979)
Polygonatum pubescens

Polygonatum pubescens

Polygonatum pubescens
Photos from The ROM Field Guide to Wildflowers of Ontario, p. 108. © Royal Ontario Museum 2004.

Maianthemum spp.

Maianthemum - This genus is distinguished from otherwise similar Polygonatum spp. (Solomon's seal; above) by its paniculate terminal inflorescences, and hence is called false Solomon's seal. Flowering shoots develop from underground rhizomes. Source: Dickinson et al. (2004) and McKay & Catling (1979)

Maianthemum canadense (left) is unusual among Ontario Liliaceae because its flowers are 2-, rather than 3-merous like the other species shown here. This species is widespread in Ontario in both forested and dry, open habitats.

Maianthemum stellatum (2nd row) is a plant of sandy soils and has the widest distribution in Ontario of the three species shown here. Large open colonies develop as the underground rhizome branches repeatedly. Both this species and the next one were previously recognized as belonging to the genus Smilacina. When the pattern of inflorescence growth in Smilacina was compared with that in Maianthemum it was recognized that two distinct genera could not be maintained. Since Maianthemum is the older name it took priority over Smilacina.

Maianthemum racemosum (3rd row) is common on richer sites in the deciduous and mixed forest regions than are the other two species shown here. Note the trimerous flowers (as in M. stellatum as well).

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Photos from The ROM Field Guide to Wildflowers of Ontario, pp. 105-107. Royal Ontario Museum 2004.

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Please send your comments to tim.dickinson@utoronto.ca; last updated 25-Oct-2008